“This is Achzivland”

Not far from the madding crowd of the Middle East, is Achzivland, a micronation that is, yet is not, a part of Israel. Ruled since 1971 by Eli Avivi–he and his wife “seceded” that year and began issuing their own stamps, currency, passports and offering a haven to hippies who wanted strip down and light up–the state has successfully resisted Israel’s decades-long attempts to reign it in (and once fended off armed Palestinian invaders). It’s proven too tiny to get a grip on, too small to fail. From Raffi Berg of the BBC:

While most Israelis vote for a new parliament next week there’s one place in the north of Israel that will be an election-free zone – one-man rule has been the way there for more than 40 years.

On Israel’s coastal road, just south of Lebanon, lies a crossing into a land of another kind.

Large blue iron gates with white painted signs mark the border, but there is no entry procedure – visitors just arrive, then go and look for the president.

This is Achzivland, perhaps the most unusual piece of territory in the Middle East. It has the trappings of a state – a flag (of a mermaid), a national “anthem” (the sound of the sea) and a constitution declaring the president democratically elected by his own vote (never actually cast).

Achzivland also has a House of Parliament – a timber structure with scatter-cushions round a table – though it has no serving MPs and has never held any sessions.

It also issues – and stamps – its own passport, which requests bearers be allowed “to pass freely without let or hindrance” wherever they may travel.

Set among picturesque landscape, and with a history stretching back to the Phoenicians, Achzivland has been governed by its oldest inhabitant, Eli Avivi, and his devoted First Lady, Rina, since the couple “seceded” from Israel in 1971.

Next to the ailing Sultan of Oman, “President Avivi” is the longest-serving ruler in the region, having survived several attempts by one of the most powerful nations in the Middle East to oust him – not surprisingly, Israel has never recognised Achzivland.

But the tiny “state” has stood its ground, with a gutsiness well beyond its size.•

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